Hiking up Grosser Mythen – hairpins and big views

You are currently viewing Hiking up Grosser Mythen – hairpins and big views
  • Post last modified:June 20, 2021
  • Post category:Schwyz
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Time: 3 hrs

Distance: ~ 6 km

Altitude: ~ 700 m ↑ 700 m ↓

Scroll down for the route details and various other laidback options.

Grosser Mythen and Kleiner Mythen sit next to each other opposite the Rigi massif, and already as you come in towards canton Schwyz on the train, they make an imposing sight, looming over the valley. Kleiner Mythen is too hard for pure hikers – you need climbing gear – but Grosser Mythen is doable, making the choice between the two an easy one for us for this hike.

H0020_Grosser Mythen_hike near Zurich
Grosser Mythen

Grosser Mythen looked no less impressive once we’d got to the start point of our hike, at the top of the Rotenflue cable car. From there, the first part of the hike was actually downhill, heading down from Rotenflue towards Grosser Mythen itself (you can avoid the first part of the hike by using the smaller Holzegg cable car, but more on that later). I would say that this warmed us up gently, but it was already a hot day despite only being May.

The real hike starts once you get to Holzegg and start going up. Within a few minutes, the path had turned into a series of hairpins winding their way up a seemingly impossibly steep mountainside. Despite its popularity, this is actually a steep and fairly difficult mountain, and the only reason we were even trying it is because it’s actually well equipped with walkways and chains to make the most vertiginous bits safer. It’s a hike worth taking seriously…

With that warning out of the way, on with the hike! We’d chosen a quiet day (this hike can get really busy) and so we had plenty of space to make our way up the mountain, taking regular stops to catch our breath and admire the already impressive views – this hike can be a real leg burner if you’re in a hurry. Even with the chains, a couple of parts of the hike were an adrenaline rush, with big drops off one side or even both sides of the path in places.

H0020_Grosser Mythen_hike near Zurich
Steep drop offs on either side of the path. The railings offer a sense of security on this popular mountain.
H0020_Grosser Mythen_hike near Zurich
A look back towards one of the many hairpins up Grosser Mythen.

Fun fact: we think there are 46 hairpins in total on the path up. You can follow your progress by keeping an eye out for the numbers painted on the rocks!

In the end, the path up is quite short, and we made it to the summit without incident. Even on a quiet day, there were plenty of people on the summit, but it’s surprisingly flat on the top and there are lots of good places to sit and enjoy the view – we found one and took our time to eat an early picnic lunch and enjoy the view. Somewhat implausibly, there’s also a small restaurant on top (cash only!). There’s a good reason this mountain is famous – the views are spectacular, with great views of Rigi, the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne), neighbouring Kleiner Mythen and the nearby Alps.

H0020_Grosser Mythen_hike near Zurich
A view from the peak

There’s only one path up (unless you have some serious climbing gear, I guess!), and once we’d eaten lunch it was clear the clouds were only getting heavier – definitely time to call it a day and head back down the way we came. The path wasn’t any easier on the way down – it really is steep in places – but we also made it back down without incident. By the time we made it back to Rotenflue cable car station, we were completely enveloped in cloud even though it wasn’t even 1pm – good thing we didn’t leave this hike until later in the day!

H0020_Grosser Mythen_hike near Zurich
Kleiner Mythen. The harder to climb little brother.
H0020_Grosser Mythen_hike near Zurich
Heavy cloud coming in around midday!

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Practical Information for this Hike

StartRotenflue cable car station
EndRotenflue cable car station
Time3 hours
Distance6 km
CantonSchywz
DifficultyT3 (not suitable for anyone with vertigo)
Altitude~ 700m up, 700m down
Popularity5/5
PeakGrosser Mythen 1898 m
Nearest RailwaySchwyz

Map & Alternative Routes

H0020_Grosser Mythen_Map Route
A = Top of the Rotenflue Cable Car & our startpoint; B = Grosser Mythen Peak. One way
distance markers are seen in red circles and white numbers.
H0020_Grosser Mythen_Map Route
Zoomed in version of our route map. We started at (A) the top of the Rotenflue cable car and made our way up to the peak (B) Grosser Mythen.

There’s only one path up to the peak, but there are four places you can start/finish from – Rotenflue cable car station which we used, Holzegg cable car station (top or bottom) or Ibergeregg Passhöhe.

#Start Point of the HikeAltitudeDistance
1Rotenflue Cable Car (this post)700 m ↑ 700 m ↓ 6 km
2Holzegg Cable Car (top)500 m ↑ 500 m ↓ 4 km
3Holzegg Cable Car Brunni (bottom)800 m ↑ 800 m ↓ 7.5 km
4Ibergeregg Passhöhe Bus stop / Car Park700 m ↑ 700 m ↓ 10.4 km

Rotenflue Cable Car

The first option requires a train into Schwyz, followed by a short bus ride to Rickenbach SZ, Rotenfluebahn where you get to the bottom of the cable car. The cable car ride is very scenic and takes you to the start of our hike: Rotenflue (Mythenregion). 

Holzegg Cable Car

The top of Holzegg cable car is actually the closest place to start from, and reduces the hike to just 500m up. However, Holzegg cable car doesn’t seem to have a very high capacity, so on some days you might be waiting a while before you’re able to get into the cable car. You could always start from the bottom of the Holzegg cable car as well (in Brunni) – this makes it 800m up to the summit. To get to the bottom of the cable car it’s a train ride to Einsiedeln and from there a connecting bus to Brunni SZ, Talstation LBH from where the Brunni SZ (Talstation Holzegg) cable car is 2 mins away. 

Ibergeregg Passhöhe

The third option, Ibergeregg Passhöhe, is the closest place if you want to walk directly from your car. There is a bus stop as well but it requires two buses from Einsiedeln station to get there. This adds a few extra fairly flat sideways kilometers on to the walk, but otherwise this is also a perfectly good option. Up to you really!